The Hogue Sporter is one of the most modern versions of the Japanese Howa M1500, launched in 1979 by Howa Machinery and exported shortly afterwards to the United States, where all the M1500 versions have since been sold successfully for two main reasons. Firstly, because over the years Howa has been modernising this model with new finishes and improvements that have allowed it to continue to compete with the rifles in its class. Thus, for example, the first M1500s were only offered with wooden cases for hunting, while today the firm offers numerous versions with very resistant and attractive synthetic cases not only for hunting, but also for shooting, and also with improved triggers that have allowed them to continue to compete with other brands in terms of accuracy. And secondly, and no less important, because, regardless of their period of manufacture, they have always offered North American hunters everything they value most in a rifle: that it is safe, reliable, accurate, ergonomic, resistant and can be reloaded quickly.

Accurate, fast and safe

The bolt is easily disassembled without tools by holding the body tightly and turning the nut.

Today’s M1500s can group three shots with commercial cartridges in an area of less than 25.4 millimetres at 100 yards (Sub-MOA) thanks to a perfectly floated barrel and a patented trigger, both of which are of the highest quality. The former is forged by cold hammering and rifled by the button rifling technique. With a round profile, it has no open sights and the muzzle, which has a diameter of 15.75 millimetres, is threaded (1/2 “x28 UNEF).

As standard it is supplied with a fixed magazine with flip-top lid, but can optionally be modified to allow the use of pouch magazines.

Ergonomic and durable

The trigger, the Howa Activated Controlled Trigger (HACT) used by the M1500 since 2011, is two-stroke and can be adjusted in weight from the inside, although as it comes from the factory, at 1.38 kilos, it is possible to achieve Sub-MOA precision… in addition to shooting comfortably and safely both in stalking and in hunting or hunting, as the front part of the trigger – the part that comes into contact with the index finger – is non-slip. On the other hand, its bolt, a modified Mauser 98 system, can be operated very quickly, disassembled without the use of tools, is safe and very well designed: the head wraps around the cartridge butt and has two lugs that lock into the barrel when rotated 90 degrees, as well as an active ejector and a very robust long extractor. And the body and handle form a single piece of steel. The body is cylindrical and has three large holes along its entire length to evacuate gases in the event of a case rupture. And the handle, which ends in a pear shape, is set well away from the side of the rifle, so that it can be gripped quickly even when wearing gloves. It has a three-position safety, a lever on the right side, behind the bolt handle: fire – the most forward position, safety without locking the bolt lever – the intermediate position, allowing safe unloading or loading – and safety with locking the bolt lever – the most rearward position.

The stock is straight and features a knurled grip that further enhances the non-slip finish.
the non-slip finish of the case.

Hogue Sporter version

The Hogue Sporter version is supplied with a synthetic case, called Hogue Over Molded Supergrip, in a choice of black or green, like the model tested, for the same price. It provides a very comfortable and effective grip and also allows you to continue shooting with the same efficiency in extreme hunting conditions because it is unalterable to weather changes. Made of fibreglass wrapped in a 7075-T6 aluminium metal bed, the whole assembly is lined with rubber which, in addition to being comfortable, is non-slip to the touch along its entire surface, especially on the grip and the sides of the shaft thanks to the pitting found in these areas.
As standard, the Howa M1500 Hogue Sporter is supplied with a fixed, flip-top magazine that holds five standard or three magnum cartridges – plus one in the chamber in both cases – although it can be modified to accept five or ten round magazines by purchasing the necessary accessories. Finally, you can choose between a blued steel barrel, like the one on the rifle we tested, or a stainless steel barrel. In the first case, it is available in .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win, .30-06 and .300 Win. Mag, but in stainless steel it only comes in .308 Win., a slightly more expensive finish: 1,059 euros instead of 859 euros.

The prop has the same types of pitting on the sides and base as the handle.

The test

BCN Outdoor provided us with a Howa M1500 Hogue Sporter caliber .308 Win. with a Nikko Stirling OCTA 3-24×56 scope with Mak mounts, two other brands they also distribute. I also used it to test the Heindall Fokus x 350 thermal clip-on (see December issue) and, in addition, to shoot with a scope of mine with a compatible but less powerful mount (I don’t hunt at long distances), which was the one I plan to install if, finally, one day, I give myself the whim of buying an M1500, a temptation that assaults me every time I hold one in my hands. In total, at 100 yards, I shot 55 rounds of two brands (Norma and Geco) in two days, achieving several sub-MOA groupings using the trigger as it comes from the factory. And, most importantly, the Hogue Sporter proved that it works like clockwork: no case marking, correct feeding and ejection, nice recoil… In short, a well-made rifle.

Grouping during the test.

Technical data

  • Type: bolt action rifle.
  • Calibre tested: .308 Win.
  • Other calibres available: .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, .30-06 and .300 Win. Mag.
  • Case: Hogue Over Molded Supergrip non-slip synthetic in green or black.
  • Stock: straight with 25.4mm rubber butt pad.
  • Barrel: blued carbon steel (available in stainless steel for .308 Win.).
  • Barrel length: 61 cm (56 cm in standard calibres).
  • Magazine: fixed magazine with flip-top cap with capacity for 5 standard or 3 magnum cartridges.
  • Bolt: Modified Mauser 98 system.
  • Trigger: Howa Actuator Controlled Trigger (HACT) two-stroke trigger set at 1.38 kg.
  • Safety: with three-position knob (fire, non-locking safety and bolt-locking safety).
  • Overall length: 107.3 cm with 56 cm barrel; 112.3 cm with 61 cm barrel.
  • Weight: 3.3 kg with 56 cm barrel; 3.4 kg with 61 cm barrel.
  • Price: 859 euros with blued barrel; 1,059 euros in stainless steel.
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